Lady Braves look to make a postseason run after losing only one starter from last year

The Banks girls soccer team’s 2012 season was one for the record books. In fact, it was easily the Lady Braves’ best ever.

Prior to last year, coach Brian Reed believes, the team had never recorded more than two wins in a season. The 2012 squad brought an end to that by finishing with a 7-6-2 overall mark and in third place in the Cowapa League behind Scappoose and Seaside. The Braves closed out the season with a 2-1 defeat to Klamath Falls in a Class 4A state play-in game.

Reed wants more in 2013.

“This year, we have been at it since ... late May, early June, and been playing all summer,” Reed said. “We’re ready to challenge Scappoose for the Cowapa League title this year.”

It is easy to see why he is optimistic about this year’s team. Reed lost only one senior starter from 2012 in honorable mention all-state defender Michaela Shurts.

Holly Dotson, the reigning league keeper of the year, is back for her final season. Fellow all-conference honorees Emily Vandehey and Cassie Streblow, both midfielders, and defenders Rachel Nikolaus and Lauren Birr also return.

This fall the Braves have welcomed Lauren Hill, whom Reed described as a “super freshman” with club soccer and Olympic Development Program experience, into the fold.

“She’s a tiny little thing,” Reed said. “She’s going to make an impact for sure. She’s so good we don’t know where to play her. ... I think she’s going to be on everybody’s radar very early on.”

Reed’s hunch is that Hill and Vandehey will be Banks’ goal-scorers, and he described Birr, a center back, as “probably our best player last year.”

The Braves will face a strong nonleague test next Thursday when they host 2012 Class 3A/2A/1A state runner-up Valley Catholic. And they will hit the ground running in league play, entertaining Scappoose on Sept. 24.

Said Reed: “This is the year for us to make any kind of a run in the playoffs.”

Forest Grove

Could this be the year the Lady Vikings start climbing the Pacific Conference ladder?

A year after Forest Grove went 6-7-2 and tied for seventh in league play while carrying 12 freshmen on varsity, the squad is still incredibly young. The 2013 edition includes just three seniors and a junior, to go along with a whopping 14 sophomores and two freshmen. But coach Jamie Ramos, who lost just two 2012 starters, likes the progress his youthful team is making.

“The freshmen from last year, they were doing a really good job, and this year I think the chemistry is getting a little bit stronger,” Ramos said. “The girls look more mature in the game also.”

Last week, the Vikings opened the season with a 2-1 victory against David Douglas, getting goals from Kasandra Perdew and Ashton Carow.

Mayra Pantoja Palominos assumes goalkeeping duties this year, and Ramos also mentioned center midfielder Veronica Campuzano, senior midfielder/defender Rachael Mason and freshman Emily Gutierrez, an attacking midfielder/forward who has already worked her way into a starting position.

“We don’t rely on one player,” Ramos said. “We know the strength is the team, so we play as a team, and every day is looking to help each other up.”

In addition to Gutierrez, Ramos has been pleasantly surprised by Pantoja Palominos, whom he said tried out for the program as a field player last year as a freshman.

“We’re going to be very solid on the goal, because she’s a really good keeper,” Ramos said. “I think she’s fantastic.”

Ramos is hoping this year’s team can move up a few spots in the Pacific Conference race.

“For the last three years, we’ve been trying to get to the four or five spot in the league,” Ramos said. “I think this is the year. This is the year that we feel really comfortable, and we feel like we’re going to get there.”

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